Plaster, Plaster Everywhere

December, 2010

Gutting an old house, I have discovered, generates an awful lot of construction debris.  I don’t know what would have happened to it all in years past, but in these times of awareness of environmental issues, we’re careful to keep the various materials separate, even though it slows down the demolition process a little.

Generally the first thing to come off a wall or ceiling is the plaster.

taking plaster off the wall, leaving the lath for the time being

Helena removing plaster only; the lath we pull off and dispose of separately. Note the mask: although we had the plaster in our house tested and it didn't contain asbestos, removal still creates a lot of dust.

And it turns out there is an enormous amount of it!  

removed plaster covers the floor

Removing the plaster makes quite a mess on the floor! Walking through this room now creates quite the "crunch, crunch, crunch" sound.

While the weather was still good and while we were working on the first floor of the house, we parked the Massey Ferguson tractor outside the dining room window, with its front-end bucket at the ready.  Inside we swept and shovelled the plaster to the window, then shovelled the plaster out the window into the waiting bucket. 

Massey-Ferguson tractor is used to remove plaster during renovations

The Massey-Ferguson tractor is proving to be a handy helper with the house renovations! First it pushed and pulled the 33.3-foot I-beams into the basement; then it helped move out and dispose of the old plaster, which we shovelled out the window into the waiting bucket.

Since plaster is comprised of natural, decomposable materials (primarily limestone or calcium carbonate, sand, some calcium sulphate and horsehair for all you scientific types), the bucket loads of plaster were spread out between areas of the shelter belt, where all the pieces, large and small, will quickly be broken down and absorbed into the surrounding soil.  As an added benefit, the plaster will help control the alkalinity of the soil.

With the arrival of winter weather, this process became a little more difficult, but John remembered our town has a spot for dumping concrete and other types of rubble. So when it was time to clean out the plaster from another downstairs room, we parked the farm truck under the window.  He pushed and swept the piles of plaster to the window while I shovelled it out the window and into the truck.  What a load it was!  John estimated it to be close to a ton, so no wonder my back was a little sore at the end of the day.

Now, how to move the plaster from the upstairs bedrooms?  John built an ingenious chute, so now we just park the truck at the bottom of the chute and then fire away from an upstairs window. 

Home-made chute for debris removal from second story of house

The chute is positioned straight into the box of the farm truck.

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